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Savalric

Magic in RPGs

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I have an idea for a game concept. I won't go into details, but this is my first game and I was wondering exactly whether or not I should incorporate magic into the game. Magic and rpgs go hand in hand, it has since the dawn of time. Obviously, the goal is to make a game that I love making, and that people love playing (and paying me for it of course). Will I be burning any bridges by not including magic? including magic wouldn't be difficult at this stage of development, but I'm not sure if I should. I was hoping to create a realistic, immersive survival based rpg, and magic would somewhat make it difficult to maintain a completely realistic game.

 

Some of the ideas I was experimenting with involved perhaps just having magic be a side skill like in some games, where it aids other skills. Other ideas would be to have magic be in it's infancy, where it's more of a play toy than an actual skill. I've considered full blown out magic skills similar to destruction, restoration, black and white magic, etc..., but having guns, bows/thrown weapons, swords and other melee weapons, as well as martial arts could make it even more difficult than it already is to balance, as well as overloading the game with far too many combat options.

 

I guess my question is simple: What's your take on including magic in an rpg, or rather, leaving it out? What are some pitfalls that I should avoid when using it? And what kind of implementation do you think I should take?

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Fantasy fiction has many examples of settings in which magic is rare or at least beyond the reach of ordinary characters.

Your game could include magic only as ad-hoc plot points (e.g. your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to throw this ring into that volcano, and please don't put it on) rather than as a tactical or strategical character resource. You already seem to have enough skills and combat options without adding magical ones.

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Magic is often brought to the table to create variance to the gameplay. Physical vs magical power brings new kind of complexity and strategy options to the player.

 

So how is your combat system, does it need a "flipside" to the basic attacking? You can create contrast and variance also by having for example ranged vs melee, defensive vs offensive, single target vs area of effect, fast and slow, direct and indirect, damage over time, status effects...  Magic vs non-magic is just another ways to customize your gameplay. But with magic you could have some attack types that are hard to justify without it, like draining health, instant healing, reviving... That's why it is often included in RPGs.

 

That being said, magic does also have other points. It justifies using bright and exotic colors and beauty in visual perfection in a world that could otherwise be very imperfect, dull and grey. It justifies more artistic freedom in creating characters, weapons, even whole cities. It opens up new soundscapes that are naturally unheard in the non-magical world we live in.

 

That is why I think choosing if you go for magic/sci-fi/fantasy is one of the first things you should know when you begin working on a game idea. If realism is in your scope then magic is traditionally off the table but in the end that doesn't mean much. You could go for a Stargate or Heroes type of setting where certain things exist in our world but the truth is hidden from everyday life.

 

Magic links to the game idea so strongly that I think you are the only one who knows whether it truly fits or not.

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Don't ruin your game trying to include something that isn't integral to your gameplay.  As Lorenzo said you could include it as story and plot moreso than a combat element if you think your intended consumer will react negatively to a completely magic free game, but that's hardly worth ruining a combat design you believe stands as is or overwhelming yourself with new features.

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